FitzOmar the fascinating The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. D. Rice
English review, 24 (2013) 1, pp. 16-19.
Edward FitzGerald's imperfectly translated collection of 75 quatrains by the 12C Persian polymath Omar Khayyam has become a global phenomenon since its initial publication in 1859. The best known poetry book in the world, the "Rubaiyat" has been produced in at least 900 editions in 85 languages, while 130 artists have illustrated it and 150 composers have set it to music. This article suggests the many reasons for its success, such as the brevity and consequent digestibility of its four-line stanzas, the vivacity of the dramas they contain, and their sense of honesty, humour and reassurance. It also acknowledges the astute marketing and merchandising campaigns that helped to establish the collection's assimilation into popular culture.